5 October 1938

In Nazi Germany, Jews’ passports are invalidated.

On October 5, 1938, the Reich Ministry of the Interior invalidates all German passports held by Jews. Jews must surrender their old passports, which will become valid only after the letter “J” has been stamped on them.

The government required Jews to identify themselves in ways that would permanently separate them from the rest of the German population. In an August 1938 law, authorities decreed that by January 1, 1939, Jewish men and women bearing first names of “non-Jewish” origin had to add “Israel” and “Sara,” respectively, to their given names. All German Jews were obliged to carry identity cards that indicated their heritage, and, in the autumn of 1938, all Jewish passports were stamped with an identifying red letter “J”. As Nazi leaders quickened their war preparations, antisemitic legislation in Germany and Austria paved the way for more radical persecution of Jews.

3 March 1938

Oil is first discovered in Saudi Arabia.

By the early 1930s, geologists had a good idea that there was oil under the sands of the newly-formed kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

Oil had been found in Persia in 1908, and wells had been producing in Iraq since 1927. In 1932, Bahrain stuck oil. So in 1933, Standard Oil of California was granted the right to prospect for oil in Saudi Arabia’s eastern provinces.

In May 1936, the ‘Dammam 2’ well struck oil. But soon it was producing more water than oil. It took five more years of looking, but on 3 March 1938, the ‘Dammam 7’ well struck oil. Within three weeks, it had produced over 100,000 barrels.

At first, the oil was transported by barge to Bahrain for export. Then, in 1939, the first tanker-load of oil was exported direct from Saudi Arabia. And by 1950, the Trans-Arabia pipeline was completed, enabling oil to be piped to Lebanon for export.

Socal and the Saudi government formed a company to exploit the newly-found reserves – the California Arabian Standard Oil Company, which would eventually become the Arabian-American Oil Company.

The Kingdom was paid an annual fee of £5,000, a four-shilling royalty per barrel, and a free supply of products form Aramco’s refinery.

Soon, however, the Saudis realised they weren’t getting a particularly good deal out of the arrangement. So in 1950, it was amended to give them a 50% split of the profits. With the world’s largest reserves, this proved to be a tidy little money-spinner for them.

By 1980, Aramco passed into the hands of the Saudi Government, and in 1988 it was renamed Saudi Aramco.

It owns and exploits all the kingdom’s energy reserves, including the Ghawar and Safaniya fields, the world’s largest onshore and offshore oil fields respectively. It is the biggest energy company in the world, valued at well over £3.6trn, with daily revenues of over $1bn.

It currently produces around ten million barrels of oil a day, from reserves estimated at 268 billion barrels. It also has natural gas reserves of over 283 trillion cubic feet.

14 November 1938

The Lions Gate Bridge that connects Vancouver to North Shore is opened to traffic.

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The Lions Gate Bridge, opened in 1938, officially known as the First Narrows Bridge,is a suspension bridge that crosses the first narrows of Burrard Inlet and connects the City of Vancouver, British Columbia, to the North Shore municipalities of the District of North Vancouver, the City of North Vancouver, and West Vancouver. The term “Lions Gate” refers to The Lions, a pair of mountain peaks north of Vancouver. Northbound traffic on the bridge heads in their general direction. A pair of cast concrete lions, designed by sculptor Charles Marega, were placed on either side of the south approach to the bridge in January 1939.

The total length of the bridge including the north viaduct is 1,823 m (5,981 ft). The length including approach spans is 1,517.3 m (4,978 ft), the main span alone is 473 m (1,552 ft), the tower height is 111 m (364 ft), and it has a ship’s clearance of 61 m (200 ft). Prospect Point in Stanley Park offered a good high south end to the bridge, but the low flat delta land to the north required construction of the extensive North Viaduct.

The bridge has three reversible lanes, the use of which is indicated by signals. The centre lane changes direction to accommodate for traffic patterns. The traffic volume on the bridge is 60,000 – 70,000 vehicles per day. Trucks exceeding 13 tonnes are prohibited, as are vehicles using studded tires. The bridge forms part of Highways 99 and 1A.

On March 24, 2005, the Lions Gate Bridge was designated a National Historic Site of Canada.

3 March 1938

Oil is first discovered in Saudi Arabia.

On March 3, 1938, an American-owned oil well in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, drilled into what would soon be identified as the largest source of petroleum in the world. The discovery radically changed the physical, human, and political geography of Saudi Arabia, the Middle East, and the world.

Before the discovery, Saudi Arabians were largely nomadic. The country’s economy was based on tourism revenue from observant Muslims’ pilgrimages to the holy city of Mecca. After the discovery, Saudis established strong infrastructure dotted with wells, pipelines, refineries, and ports. Today, oil accounts for more than 92% of the Saudi budget.

Saudi Arabia is one of the largest producers and exporters of oil in the world. The lucrative petroleum trade fostered sophisticated diplomatic relations between Saudi Arabia and the West, as well as Japan, China, and Southeast Asia. Most industrialized nations depend on petroleum imports, and critics claim this allows Saudi Arabia to have an outsized role in some foreign policy decisions, especially those surrounding the Middle East. The discovery of oil also changed the demographics of the kingdom. Today, millions of foreign workers—from the U.S., India, Pakistan, Ethiopia, and the Middle East—live and work in Saudi Arabia.

16 November 1938

LSD is synthesized for the first time by Albert Hofmann.

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Albert Hofmann, a chemist working for Sandoz Pharmaceutical, synthesized LSD for the first time in 1938, in Basel, Switzerland, while looking for a blood stimulant. However, its hallucinogenic effects were unknown until 1943 when Hofmann accidentally consumed some LSD. It was later found that an oral dose of as little as 25 micrograms is capable of producing vivid hallucinations.

Because of its similarity to a chemical present in the brain and its similarity in effects to certain aspects of psychosis, LSD was used in experiments by psychiatrists through the 1940s, ’50s and ’60s. While the researchers failed to discover any medical use for the drug, the free samples supplied by Sandoz Pharmaceuticals for the experiments were distributed broadly, leading to wide use of this substance.

LSD was popularized in the 1960s by individuals such as psychologist Timothy Leary, who encouraged American students to “turn on, tune in, and drop out.” This created an entire counterculture of drug abuse and spread the drug from America to the United Kingdom and the rest of Europe. Even today, use of LSD in the United Kingdom is significantly higher than in other parts of the world.